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Archive for hungary

The House of Houdini

By Linda Tancs

Hungarian-born Harry Houdini is arguably the greatest magician and escape artist of all time. Born as Erik Weisz in Budapest, the House of Houdini there boasts one of the largest collections of the magician’s artifacts. The display includes handcuffs, straitjackets, movie posters and a replica of the cell he escaped from in his final show. The museum, which includes a theater for magic acts, is located at the foot of Buda Castle.

Europe’s Cave Capital

By Linda Tancs

Budapest, Hungary, is famous for its natural underground caves, formed by thermal waters over millions of years. The Pál-völgyi cave, the longest in the Buda Hills, is famous for its unique dripstones. The Szemlő-hegyi cave, on the other hand, has no stalactites but instead is filled with several beautiful crystal formations. Its exceptionally clean respiratory environment has been used in the treatment of breathing disorders. There are about another 198 caves to explore in this cave capital of Europe, many a short bus ride from downtown.

Around the Danube Bend

By Linda Tancs

The Danube Bend is a curve of the Danube in Hungary (north of Budapest), the second largest stretch of the river. One of the gems in that bend is Szentendre (Saint Andrew), prized for its narrow alleys, colorful houses, arts and crafts and panoramic views. Serbians fleeing from the Turkish occupation settled there in the 17th century in large numbers, giving the city a Mediterranean character still evident today. Teeming with tourists in summer, now is a quiet time to enjoy the charms of this picturesque city, a great place to admire Hungarian art and authentic embroidered goods and taste some of the best lángos (fried flatbread often topped with garlic, cheese and sour cream) in the country.  The town is easily accessible via HÉV suburban train (Batthyány tér station in Budapest).

Tasteful Art in Hungary

By Linda Tancs

In Ajka, Hungary, art never looked so tasteful. That’s where Hungarian artist and pastry chef Judit Czinkné Poór summons her inner Rembrandt and creates intricately designed and bedazzling cookies, often highlighted with doily designs and richly hued flowers embodying traditional folk art. Her business, Mézesmanna, arose from a love of pastry arts that takes her on worldwide expeditions teaching the tricks of her trade to motivated bakers. These treats are too good to eat, and they shouldn’t be. Although edible, Hungarian tradition is to dole them out as keepsakes for special occasions, giving a whole new spin to the notion of a sweet reminder.

A Memento in Budapest

By Linda Tancs

American writer and activist Maya Angelou observed that “history, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” Perhaps that thought best sums up the motivation behind Memento Park in Budapest, Hungary, a statue park paying lasting tribute to the biggest actors of the Cold War and their influencers. It houses 42 massive statues and monuments removed from Budapest after the fall of communism, including the likes of Stalin, Lenin, Marx, Engels and Red Army soldiers. Getting there can be challenging (requiring a combination of metro and bus travel) unless you’re able to take the direct bus at 11:00 a.m. from Deak Square.

Princess on the Promenade

By Linda Tancs

Created by László Marton in 1989, Budapest’s Little Princess is a bronze statue along the Danube promenade between the Chain Bridge and Elisabeth Bridge near Vigadó tér.  Reputedly the most photographed, it is but one of many gems in the city, including the statues at Castle Hill, the Holocaust monuments, the Liberty Monument atop Gellért Hill and the Time Wheel monument (the world’s largest hourglass) celebrating Hungary’s induction into the European Union.

The Grassalkovich Era

By Linda Tancs

The palace of Gödöllő is a baroque masterpiece just 20 miles northeast of Budapest, Hungary.  Commissioned by Count Antal Grassalkovich I in the early 1700s, its ornate Grand Hall, tapestried rooms, red marble bath, conservatory and theatre represent the life and times of the area’s nobility.  The palace remained in the possession of the Grassalkovich family until the death of the last male heir in the 1800s.  Later purchased for the Crown, it was the favorite palace of Elisabeth, Queen of Hungary.  The palace and its grounds are easily accessible by car, bus, train or suburban rail (HÉV).

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